Robert Cox’s argument ”Theory is always for someone for some purpose” has a big importance from point of studies international relations.
This argument claims that there is no objective theory in substance. All theories have a value, and the theories serve some purpose. If Cox’s argument is analised under difference of problem solving and critical theory, analises of argument is constructed by Cox on some difference. The analises comes into existence from discussion on differences and similarities between problem solving theory and critical theory. If we depart from this similarities and differences, we clearly see that this study probes meaning of Cox’s argument. When we anlayse this argument similar points of Cox’s theoretical perspective and Frankfurt School approach should be emphasised.
Cox is most important theoretican of critical theory . He is affected from Marx and Gramschi . He mentioned ” problem solving” approaches in international relations. According to him; the purpose of critical theory is to change existing system. The theoreticans of this approach analyse events from point of power relations in international relations, and analysis of them bases on this grounded theory. Social forces and structure of global economy is most important area of investigation for them. Robert Cox mentions production , the world order and type of state. He talked about three basis power category . First one is material categories: Airforce, land force , navies; technological forces. Second one is thought categories : Collective thought of society, perspectives. Third one is institutions. According to Cox; institutions are combination of material categories and thought categories . At the same time ,critical theory constructs theory as much different from traditional approaches, like post-positivists. Theory is always for someone for some purpose. This expression claims that the disangagement occurs from values and norms. In return, Cox identify theory that is talking about theory without norms and values is not possible. Theory has human dimension and historical dimension , social dimemsion.
On the other hand, Robert Cox makes a strong distinction between problem solving theories and critical theories. According to Cox; problem solving theories are that Robert Cox terms this theories as conservative and traditionalist. According to them ; existing system is a natural corollary, and they analyse as bare fact . Their purpose is to make better . Antithetically, there is a critical theory . This approach does not approve like conservative and traditionalists. According to them ; they do not try to enhance existing system, and they try to reveal social and historical process of problematical areas. We can clearly see that problem solving theories approve the parameter of existing system. In other words, this approach legitimates system as direct or indirect. Critical theory challenges existing system. They want to liberatory changing. In problem solving theories( positivist), objective knowledge is possible without social context. In critical theory (post-positivists) actually cosmic, natural structures are social structures. Critical theory denaturalise them. In short, theory constituties the world or the structure in which we live and vice versa . Despite problem-solving theory is considered as an objective tool to explain the practice; as it is very much related.
Mücahit Bayram IŞIK